PLANT, Inc. Blog
Encouraging Parent Led Education
by Mona Koerner
Not all homeschool co-ops are large, public groups that meet in a church and charge an annual fee. Many homeschool co-ops are small, private, informal groups of parents who get together to cooperate in teaching their children. You only need one or two other moms to form a great co-op that will serve your homeschool well.
That spring we met for a couple hours every other week for 'fun science.' We used Elementary Chemistry curriculum from Real Science 4 Kids by Rebecca W. Keller, Ph.D. a local UNM Professor. We took turns hosting, teaching or bringing snack. Each mom either had to clean her house, prep for the lesson OR make a snack, but never more than one each time we met.
Our format was to meet every other week for four hours. We rotated houses, teaching responsibilities, and snack. Our meetings always included 'fun science', presentations, games, snack, some other activity and playtime. We had five moms, and six kids. Each student was required to present once a month. Presentations were either like show and tell, academic presentations, or artistic performances of music, dancing, drama or poetry recitation.
We had little in common: some great kids who got along really well and many differences: our students were four years apart in age, in three different grades. We all used different curriculums and had different approaches to homeschooling and different priorities. We each came from a different religious background or denominational affiliation. We even lived almost 30 minutes apart. However, the commitment we made to carve out time to engage with others benefited our over all homeschool in terms of encouragement, support, vision and balance.
The wonderful thing about a small, private co-op is that it is flexible and fluid. It can grow and change as the kids grow and change. Being small meant we each had a say in what we did and the types of activities we undertook. It also meant there was something for us moms as well - friendship, fellowship, support and fun. We watched our kids blossom as they studied together, respected each other, accepted each other's differences, learned to be a good audience, gained confidence, created together, had fun and loved each other. It was everything you could want in a learning environment.
Although competing as a robotics team was a fabulous experience it required significantly more of a time commitment than our co-op had and my daughter regretted that it felt more like work than our 'fun science'. So we quit the group after that. However, they went on to finish 2nd and then 1st in the state robotics competition in subsequent years earning trips to Lego Land and the World Competition in Houston. The foundation for their success had been laid by our co-op.
We will always treasure our time in FFEC as some of the greatest memories of our early homeschooling years. It was a huge blessing to us. And it all started because one mom invited us over to decorate cookies....
Mona Koerner educates her 8th grade daughter at home. In the early years of homeschooling, she also worked part-time as a policy consultant. Currently she teaches a Bible Reading class to teen girls, High School Economics, and helps coach a Kickball class. She has also taught Middle School Personal Finance. She holds a Masters of Business Administration and PhD in Political Economy. She is one of the founders and the Executive Director of Parent Led Academic Network Team, Inc.